Inspirational Woman: Marie Lallia | Senior Operations Manager, Artist Marketing, Deezer

Marie LalliaMarie Lallia is the Senior Artist Marketing Manager at Deezer.

The music industry is extremely tough for females to break into, with the industry notorious for being male-dominated. Billboard's top 100 people in the music industry in In 2018, a mere 17 per cent of the list were female.

Marie began her career at Deezer as an intern in 2012 and has risen through the ranks to become a Senior Manager, working directly with artists, artist management and record labels to discuss how to market and promote their music in Deezer while building their fanbase.

Marie works with artists at all stages of their careers from the new and developing (identifying artists for the Deezer Next programme) to global superstars like Ed Sheeran, Metallica, Pharrell Williams, Muse and many others.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I’ve been with Deezer for over seven years and started my journey as an artist marketing intern. Now as Deezer’s Senior Operations Manager within the Artist Marketing team, we are responsible for helping artists, labels and managers grow their fan bases and reach new listeners through special campaigns and projects. We work with artists at all stages of their careers, from the emerging  artists on our Deezer NEXT support programme, through to superstars like Ed Sheeran, Metallica, Pharrell Williams and Dua Lipa.

Prior to Deezer, I worked at EMI Music publishing in the sync department and hold a degree in Management from Université de Paris Dauphine.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I think it’s difficult to sit down and plan a career.  life is hard to predict and advances in technology mean everything is rapidly evolving. When I was growing up, music streaming wasn’t really around, so planning a career in streaming would have been impossible. It’s actually more about feeling confident about something you genuinely love. I have always been passionate about music and I initially wanted to work in classical music. But I remember sitting down and evaluating opportunities every time they have come up, and from there having a better judgement and understanding of what direction I’d like my career to take, step by step.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Streaming is still a fairly new industry - Deezer is just over ten years old - which means it’s still maturing. Our artist marketing team relies on the trends and patterns of our users (for example, if our users are increasingly listening to a certain musician) as well as our team’s expert knowledge. However due to the nature of streaming, these patterns and trends are always changing. So when we run a successful artist campaign, we have to be creative and change our approach to find success. The challenge is to always stay on top of the very latest in digital marketing and the music industry -  but that’s a great part of the fun!

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I’m really proud of the work I’ve done for International Women’s Day, involving artists like Annie Lennox and Anitta. However one of the greatest achievements that the team and I have worked on is establishing Deezer as an artist-friendly platform. This is down to our artist-focused campaigns that help build their profile and showcase what they’re about and not just about increasing streaming numbers.

Our various projects try to cover all aspects of the artist and music creation. Ranging from the musician’s influences and inspirations through to production and live music. We build plans that help build the artist’s story and that’s really gratifying!

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

At Deezer, I’ve been lucky enough to work with great managers that have trusted me and pushed me to break outside of comfort areas, to always think big and overcome even the hardest of challenges. A strong team is vital in the music space, and we’re all trying to achieve the same goals, to bring success to truly talented artists all across the world.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Don’t give up if things don’t work out after your first try, or the second, or the third… For something you really want, give things time and you’ll get there by persevering.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

Deezer NEXT, our support programme for emerging artists, is always a very exciting challenge. We launched NEXT in 2017 and were the first to launch this kind of initiative, which I’m really proud of as it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to create an industry-first and keep it alive for over three years and counting.

To kick start our annual programme, we link up with labels, management and artists to select the talent that we feel have great potential. Once selected, these artists are given an avenue for new exposure to local and worldwide audiences with 12 months of support from our Artist Marketing and Editorial teams. This includes playlisting and creative marketing campaigns with special content, fan events and social media amplification. Since we started the programme, we’ve been able to work with some amazing Deezer NEXT Alumni, like Jorja Smith, Rag ‘N’ Bone Man and Anne Marie. My goal for the future is to continue the success of Deezer NEXT and keep helping artists to grow their fanbase and get the recognition they deserve!

What are your top tips to break into the music industry?

Networking is extremely important as the music industry is a people’s business, but not as much as being thorough in your work ethic. There’s getting your foot in the door and finding ways to contribute. Always make sure you bring added value to every project you work on and leave a good impression with everyone you work with.

One top tip in the music industry is to take ‘name-dropping’ with a pinch of salt...people do that a lot! Instead, do the research on the artist, check the data and work hard. As that’s what will actually get the job done.

How do you get the best out of a team?

You can definitely get the best out of people by getting them excited about a project or what they’re working on. I guess that’s quite easy for us at Deezer because we work in music and music is what makes us thrive. There should always be something interesting for everyone in each project. So find what it is that motivates people and capitalise on that. Also, be nice.

Sulinna Ong featured

Inspirational Woman: Sulinna Ong | VP Artist Marketing at Deezer


Sulinna Ong is Vice President of Artist Marketing at Deezer.

Inspirational Woman: Sulinna Ong | VP Artist Marketing at Deezer Ms. Ong is responsible for leading Deezer’s Artist Marketing team globally and setting its strategy and working directly with labels and managers to identify opportunities that will appeal to content creators and music lovers. Ong brings 16 years’ experience of pioneering global marketing strategies in the music industry, as well as directly managing major artists; coupled with stints marketing leading edge software, AI and robotics products.

Following her studies in music at Western Sydney University, Ong joined Sony to work on the world’s first consumer robot product, AIBO. She later moved to London where she joined SonyBMG as International Marketing Manager, Artist Development, winning the Music Week Best International Marketing Campaign for Il Divo. After a stint on Kasabian’s management team she moved to Live Nation Artists as Director of International Marketing & Artist Development working with the Rolling Stones, Madonna, Jay Z and Roc Nation and then on to become CMO of award-winning music video app Youdio.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes, I was and am a “planner” but I’ve had to learn how to do this in a productive fluid way. In the earlier stages of my career I had a very rigid view of what I thought “success” looked like, it was an unrealistic plan of rapid promotions with no failure along the way - it was one upward trajectory on a graph with no dips. And of course I learned quickly that real life doesn’t work that way. I thought that what I needed to do was simply work harder than anyone else and all would come and roll out smoothly but the world of work is not a straightforward meritocracy and life is unpredictable and full of variables out of one’s control. You have to learn to roll with the punches and not be too attached to a “perfect” version of what you think your career should look like.

I’ve had to let go of a lot of assumptions and accept that there will always be peaks and troughs and that, when you experience failure (as cliché as this will sound), it can lead to deeper understanding and emotional maturity that grounds you for success later down the line. I’ve also come to understand that “timing” has a lot to do with success.

When I think about the roles I want to hold and the companies for which I want to work, I assess where I am currently and my skillset, to identify the gaps. Then I figure out what I need to do to bridge that gap. I think it’s important to have a realistic view of your skills and experience and do a health check regularly. I don’t take anything for granted.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

There will always be challenges along the way, especially if you want to succeed. If you aren’t being challenged on a weekly or even daily basis you aren’t pushing yourself out of your comfort zone enough. There’s no magic formula for dealing with challenges because, by their very nature, they are always new and different. So stay flexible, learn as much as you can about stuff you don’t know, and don’t be afraid to ask others for help or advice.

What advice would you give someone who wishes to move into a leadership position for the first time?

Firstly, a leadership role is comprised of two parts; the “leadership” side and the “management” side. Aren’t these two things the same you may ask? Well no, they’re not. A good leader needs to inspire the people under them, have a vision and be able to impart it; but that has to be coupled with the ability to execute - to organize and manage people to achieve real results.

Also taking a leadership role means taking accountability for a team and having to make the right decisions, even when they might not be the most popular decisions.

When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how would you decide who should have the role?

Qualifications aren’t just certificates on a piece of paper, it’s everything that a candidate brings to the table including their unique life experiences. From that point of view there are never two equally-qualified candidates. One way or another, someone will always be ahead of the pack. The trick is to keep an open enough mind to recognize that.

How do you manage your own boss?

I respect the fact that my boss has limited time and is busier than I am, with a lot of people vying for his time and attention, therefore I ensure that I’m as efficient and as prepared as possible for our one-on-one meetings. This means knowing exactly the topics that need to be discussed and what I want to achieve out of the short time we have together - whether that’s feedback, sign off etc. I send a list of talking points to him ahead of our meeting so there’s a structured agenda. It’s also important to take into account your boss’s approach and work personality and how often they like you to communicate with them, some individuals prefer more regular check-ins and detail and others prefer a general overview - you need to quickly ascertain where they sit in this spectrum and adjust and calibrate accordingly.

Additionally, I ensure that if there are any significant developments, that my boss is the first person to know and that he is informed directly by me. I never want my boss to be put on the spot without the right information and updates at hand regarding anything that my team and I are working on.

Be as pre-emptive as possible. Don’t wait to be told what to do - look at what’s needs doing and start delivering it.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

I’m not a morning person and I know it’s fashionable at the moment to say “I get up at 4am and go for a run then have an egg white omelette and green tea” but that is absolutely not true for me. My job involves a lot of late nights and gigs, so I frequently get to bed late, but still have to get up next morning for meetings. So the day may start with an early product meeting in the office (aided by coffee!) and end with a meeting at a venue for a gig.

One of the things I enjoy about my job is that my days vary so much from one day to the next. I regularly have to go meet with artists, artist managers and record labels about their work and music, maybe in a recording studio or at the record label. I travel a lot for work visiting our offices in other countries and also speaking at music and tech conferences worldwide.

I have to listen to and keep up-to-date with an enormous amount of music so I have to carve out time in my day every day to listen to music from the latest up and coming talent to the biggest global superstars (and everything in between). I also spend a lot of time working with the Deezer app, and looking at data analytics and speaking to different teams to spot trends and see what songs our users worldwide are liking and listening to. Working at a music streaming company means being right on the borderline between music and technology, so my day needs to embrace both.

What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations?

Get to know as many people as possible in an organisation across different departments. Spend time talking to everyone (whether you work closely with them or not) to understand what they do and to get insight into their goals and the problems they face. I see a lot of people having lunch with the same group of people every day and, whilst we all have people at work we are closer to and get along with on a personal level, you need to break out of these habits and get to know people outside of your direct circle.

You not only learn an incredible amount about others but they also get to know you. If you don’t take the time to get to know others, why would you assume they would take the time to know you?

How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?

I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked for people who did mentor me but this was not in a formal “I’m mentoring/coaching you” kind of way. I worked for them and was allowed to watch them negotiate and I paid close attention to how they wrote, how they explained things, how they negotiated and learned an immense amount just by observing them. On top of this, these people took the time to show me how I could improve my own work whether that took the form of correcting me when I made a mistake, telling me clearly if something I was doing wasn’t at the right quality level or that I should push myself further to raise the bar even higher out of my own comfort zone - all of which I was grateful for as it made me better at what I do.

Do you think networking is important and if so, what three tips would you give to a newbee networker
  • The best networkers I’ve seen in action are people who truly have an interest in getting to know others and connecting people to one another, not for their own personal gain, but because they think the introduction will be beneficial for the other parties. This means they create a network of people who genuinely like and respect each other, and they are included in that. What goes around comes around.
  • When you’re at a function “networking”, give the person you’re talking to your full attention - that means being fully engaged in the conversation whilst you’re having it. Don’t talk to someone whilst also having one eye on the rest of the room scouring for someone else who may be more important to speak to. This is incredibly rude and people know when you’re doing this. It leaves an awful impression. Don’t be that person.
  • Don’t just network up, some of the best leads I’ve had have come from the most unexpected places and people.
What does the future hold for you?

At the beginning of this interview I said that one of the lessons I had to learn was not to over plan and create rigid expectations, so whenever anyone asks me this question I drill down to the essence of what it is I really want and enjoy - and that’s working on innovative projects that allow me the opportunity to do my best work with people who I can learn from and respect.